Oliver's Army in the news

Pretty self-explanatory
Neil.
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Oliver's Army in the news

Postby Neil. » Tue Jan 11, 2022 9:54 am

This one of the top stories on BBC News entertainment section at the mo:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-59950583

Hawksmoor
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby Hawksmoor » Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:53 am

Won't do any harm. Any publicity is good publicity (with the exception of having been proved in a court of law to be a predatory paedophile, obviously). Elvis' explanation is perfectly reasonable and sensible, and if this story is doing the rounds, the number of people who previously had no interest, but who might read it and think 'wow, Elvis Costello - is he still going?' and then maybe even buy the new LP, will be far greater than the number who'll read it and think 'the utter bastard - I won't be buying any more of his LPs!'

Group B probably weren't buying his LPs since 1979 anyway. Group A might constitute a few thousand, at most. But that's a few more quid in the EC coffers.

sheeptotheslaughter
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby sheeptotheslaughter » Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:18 am

That is the only record of his they play. :D :D

Johnnie Walker seems to like Radio Radio. He plays that a bit on sounds of the 70's on a Sunday afternoon. TBF I rarely listen to the radio these days.

jardine
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby jardine » Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:57 am

Must say that I'm disappointed in the current need for a ban, as if that will help anything. Let's just not say it. Let's pretend it never happened. Let's let those who knee-jerk misunderstand what is being said and how it is being said rule the day. And, yes, it is a bloody awful phrase, it was bloody awful. But the hassle he would face trying to parse all that...as has been said, it would totally overshadow this Friday's new release. Glad e.c. was able to get some modicum of clarification of the source of this -- the truth[b] of this.[/b].

Erasure does not heal. And here is the irony -- I would have known just about nothing at all about this had this controversy not arisen. I heard the song when released but didn't ever really fully understand the reference. So, well, I guess I'm glad of the ban and its news at least to that extent? Argh

I have been writing about the removal of names from schools in Calgary, Alberta, that are named after those responsible for First Nations residential schools, and directly and indirectly for the [b]hundreds[b] of unmarked graves of young, unnamed, confiscated children that surround them. The namelessness horrifyied the public and it lead to the erasure of the names of the schools. Strange times. Difficult times.

Again, I think Elvis did what was necessary. And I won't be surprised if this post causes more heat than light. My sincere apologies in advance for any result of my clumsiness trying to talk about this.

jardine
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby jardine » Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:43 am

I'm also wondering what, in fact, triggered this, right now, after so many years?

sweetest punch
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby sweetest punch » Wed Jan 12, 2022 11:03 am

jardine wrote:I'm also wondering what, in fact, triggered this, right now, after so many years?


https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/ ... na-cabinet
Last edited by sweetest punch on Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

johnfoyle
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Jan 12, 2022 11:33 am

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... ry_8,_2022

The Daily Telegraph , 8 January 2022

(extract)

He intends to be back on tour with the Imposters in June. One number fans are unlikely to hear him play, however, is his biggest British hit, "Oliver's Army," which reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1979. A song about the army and imperialism, it has recently fallen foul of cancel culture owing to his barbed inclusion of the "n" word to describe a British private ("Only takes one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white n-----").

"If I wrote that song today, maybe I'd think twice about," he says. "That's what my grandfather was called in the British army — it's historically a fact — but people hear that word go off like a bell an accuse me of something that I didn't intend.

"On the last tour, I wrote a new verse about censorship, but what's the point of that? So I've decided I'm not going to play it." When the song is broadcast on the radio the offending word is often bleeped out which, says, Costello, "is a mistake. They're making it worse by bleeping it for sure. Because they're highlighting it then. Just don't play the record!

"You know what," he continues, "it would do me a favour. Because when I fall under a bus, they'll play 'She,' 'Good Year for the Roses' and 'Oliver's Army.'" Which means, Costello points out, that if you take that last one out of the equation, "I'll die, and they will celebrate my death with two songs I didn't write. What does that tell you?"

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migdd
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby migdd » Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:26 pm

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Hawksmoor
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby Hawksmoor » Thu Jan 13, 2022 2:59 am

jardine wrote:Must say that I'm disappointed in the current need for a ban, as if that will help anything. Let's just not say it. Let's pretend it never happened. Let's let those who knee-jerk misunderstand what is being said and how it is being said rule the day. And, yes, it is a bloody awful phrase, it was bloody awful. But the hassle he would face trying to parse all that...as has been said, it would totally overshadow this Friday's new release. Glad e.c. was able to get some modicum of clarification of the source of this -- the truth[b] of this.[/b].

Erasure does not heal. And here is the irony -- I would have known just about nothing at all about this had this controversy not arisen. I heard the song when released but didn't ever really fully understand the reference. So, well, I guess I'm glad of the ban and its news at least to that extent? Argh

I have been writing about the removal of names from schools in Calgary, Alberta, that are named after those responsible for First Nations residential schools, and directly and indirectly for the [b]hundreds[b] of unmarked graves of young, unnamed, confiscated children that surround them. The namelessness horrifyied the public and it lead to the erasure of the names of the schools. Strange times. Difficult times.

Again, I think Elvis did what was necessary. And I won't be surprised if this post causes more heat than light. My sincere apologies in advance for any result of my clumsiness trying to talk about this.

Not clumsy at all, in fact I agree with pretty much everything you've said there. With the exception of 'the current need for a ban'. I don't think there's a 'ban' as such. This reads to me like Elvis - who, as we know, is a thoughtful and intelligent person (who loves to talk!) - shrugging his shoulders and saying 'fine - the easiest thing is just not to play it any more'. Newspapers have worked this up into a 'story' because...that's what newspapers do. But I honestly think that for Elvis, it's no big deal. He recognises that it is an offensive word so he's saying 'just don't bother playing the record, and I'll stop playing it in concerts'. God knows, it's not like he's short of songs to play :lol:.

sweetest punch
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby sweetest punch » Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:14 am

https://www.google.be/amp/s/www.indepen ... html%3famp


The Independent, London
13 January 2022


Elvis Costello isn’t erasing ‘Oliver’s Army’ over an offensive lyric – he’s safeguarding it

The veteran singer-songwriter has retired one of his biggest songs over the inclusion of a racial slur. This is an effective act of political correctness, writes Louis Chilton – not self-censorship, but basic human decency



When does a song become unsingable? A few days ago, singer-songwriter Elvis Costello revealed he would no longer be performing one of his songs, “Oliver’s Army”, at live shows. He also called on radio stations to stop broadcasting it. The 1979 track is one of Costello’s best-known and best-loved, a deceptively upbeat song that somewhat obliquely tackles the Troubles in Northern Ireland. In the second verse, Costello sings the phrase “white n*****”, a slur that was historically used against the Irish, including his grandfather. For decades, the lyric was largely uncensored in broadcasts of the track; in recent years, this has changed. Speaking to The Telegraph last weekend, Costello argued that broadcasters were “making it worse by bleeping it”, because they were calling attention to the term. “Just don’t play the record,” he said, adding: “People hear that word go off like a bell and accuse me of something that I didn’t intend.” Our endless cultural self-analysis – the perennial redrawing of the boundaries of good taste – can be exasperating, of course. But it is also necessary. Anything else would constitute intellectual and moral stagnation.

It’s easy to see why Costello would feel compelled to reassess the song. In the years since its release, the “n-word” has become, for extensively documented reasons, taboo for white artists to use, regardless of the context. Randy Newman used the word many times in his 1974 song “Rednecks”, a satirical number written from the perspective of a southern racist, which also called out racist hypocrisy across America’s northern states. It didn’t make the headlines that Costello’s proclamation did, but Newman stated in 2015 that he has stopped performing “Rednecks” live, explaining: “Things have got better in some ways for black people in this country but not significantly. However, the ‘n-word’ is really anathema now.”


It’s not just musicians who are reassessing their work in a modern context. In 2020, the comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for instance, removed multiple episodes that included instances of Black and brownface from streaming services, at the behest of the show’s creators. A spate of other TV series (30 Rock; the US version of The Office) have undergone similar reforms. But these decisions are not always received enthusiastically. Surely, the argument goes, there must be space for toothsome satire in the arts. Surely, depiction need not equate to endorsement. Surely, context must be taken into account. When the infamous homophobic slur is censored in The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York”, or the Rolling Stones announce they will no longer perform the skin-crawling lyrics of “Brown Sugar”, that is one thing. These are corrective actions, taken to avoid perpetuating the songs’ harmful racial and homophobic sentiments. The racial slur in “Oliver’s Army”, however, was written with full awareness of its horrible implications; the condemnation was baked into the usage. The Blackface in Always Sunny was similarly knowing, a transparent lampoon of its characters’ racism and obliviousness. So why is it necessary to censor this?

The reason is fairly clear-cut, once you boil it down to a term that provokes an allergic reaction in so much of the British media commentariat: “political correctness”. This, along with its brother “cancel culture”, is a bogeyman: a term used chiefly as a pejorative, when all it really translates to is harm reduction. It’s an undeniable fact that some people would listen to Costello singing “white n******” and be upset by it. Removing the phrase – or removing the entire song from the airwaves – simply reduces the chances of this happening. It isn’t an act of censorship, but an act of decency.

The thing is, there is space for this kind of satire. It’s tempting to pigeonhole Costello’s decision as an act of erasure, but what is being erased? The song still exists in its original, uncensored form. It can still be streamed easily and ubiquitously. Even if it were to be removed from Spotify (which almost certainly wouldn’t happen), it would still be available on countless CDs, on YouTube and on vinyl.

Costello is not telling fans not to listen to the song. If anything, in letting people seek it out themselves, he’s encouraging people to engage with the lyrics, and the context, more than they might as a passive radio listener. The same goes for other similarly problematic songs, and for TV series. Those wishing to watch the Blackface episodes of Always Sunny or 30 Rock still have avenues through which to do so – DVDs and online piracy being the largest two – but they must watch them only as a conscious choice.


In retiring “Oliver’s Army”, Costello has ducked out of the tiresome culture wars and maintained his autonomy as the artist. He understands that context matters, that satire that was once sharp and incisive can be blunted by time. So fans should rest easy – they’re not losing out from Costello’s decision. They of all people should know, his aim is always true.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

jardine
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby jardine » Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:54 am

Wonder if terms like "commentariat" will be next? What I mean to say is that such stuff is unnecessary. Inflamatory and not especially enlightening at all when it is just tossed off like that. Many of the other things you said were informative and helpful, but I get to those sarcastic turns and I stop reading. For me, they don't help anything and tend to make the writer the topic instead of what is being written about.

That point you make about "harm reduction" is important to consider -- balance the harm of voicing it with the harm of silencing it and erasing it [from performances, e.g.]. I know that this song and this discussion has helped me understand things I'd missed altogether about what his words invoked historically and perhaps currently.

And yes, best to just drop it. Certainly on-line, often over-heated wars over old lyrics aren't the forum for actually opening this up and staring it down...but there is something that makes me hesitate in saying that. Hopefully there can become a time and place and this just doesn't simply fall from memory and voice all over again...just like the still unnamed First Nations children have fallen out of view, all over again, on Canadian news -- and this as i still drive by toys and teddy bears and dolls tied to fence posts along the locale reserve -- 115 of them for the first cluster of missing children to rise to awareness in Canada...known all along by some First Nations folks themselves. Perhaps the nature of "harm reduction" needs to be solely in the hands of those harmed in the first place. Whatever that means.

Anyway, thanks for your post...

jardine
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby jardine » Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:09 am

And, of course, none of this is especially e.c.'s job. He has to survive out at that front edge of the glare of things and do what is needed in that light -- no pun intended...well, maybe a little bit 8) .

jardine
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Re: Oliver's Army in the news

Postby jardine » Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:16 am

I do know of a lot of research done on the algorithmic nature of such topics rising up. It happened recently to Bob Dylan when the latest bootleg series was released. Automated search of artists, politicians, etc., to see if something buried or forgotten might be tittilating enough to bring up. It almost acts like an inverted publicity stunt aimed at giving publicity to the media that publicize it. Interesting how "cancel culture" has, in part, been produced by falling for this hidden logic and then exacerbating it without mentioning it at all, how our cultural sensitivities are, in part, sold back to us and exaggerated, not in the cause of "harm reduction" but in the cause of clicks and profits.

Now THAT is something e.c. has told is lots about over the years.

This might be a start at untangling a term like "commentariat?" Sorry, old professors never die. They just start to smell a bit... :?


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